Thanks so much to everyone who turned out last Sunday!  The beginning workshoppupu hoursing along format seemed to work well, so we will do it again!  Here are links to the songs that we practiced in the workshop.  (They’re two to a page so we can 1) save paper and 2)fold in half and use with the kani-ka-pila klip.)

The Yellow Rose of Texas and Cornbread and Butter Beans

Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby and Chain of Fools

Jambalaya and Get Together

Also, I’m trying to update the list of other ukulele clubs and scheduled jam sessions in the area. If you know of any that I have not included (and I’m sure there are many) and can send me the link to their website, I’ll get them included as soon as possible.

Here’s Something New

From Kani-Ka-Pila!  Handy dandy ukulele fret stamps in different colors and a limited-time price reduction:

Click on any of the links for more information.

Benefit Concert

And last, but certainly not least, here is an email I received this morning from Cathe Glass:

Aloha   kakou!
This invitation is coming to you because you are a dear friend and I hope you may want to help. . . . .  as you may or may not know, my twelve year old grandson James is currently battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  We are sure that he will win! 
Herb Ohta Jr.(Santa Clara, CA - Benefit to Fight Non-Hodgkins Lympho...With great aloha, my dear friend Herb Ohta Jr has decided to dedicate his concert at Santa Clara University to James and the fight against Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  All proceeds will be donated the medical fund.  Please join us for an evening of wonderful Hawaiian entertainment and support for the cause.  With your help, it will be memorable.  Details are below.  Hope to see you there.                                            
Herb Ohta Jr.(Santa Clara, CA – Benefit to Fight Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma…
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
6:30pm until 9:00pm
Santa Clara University – 500 El Camino Real Building [114] Music & Dance, Recital Halls, Santa Clara, CA 95053
More information about the event:
Mahalo!  Me ke aloha no,  Cathe  
Extra attraction – Na Leo Nahenahe, the San Francisco Hawaiian  Chorus will open for Herb.

Cornbread and Butter Beans

And I leave you with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Cornbread and Butter Beans


Thanks everyone for hanging in there with me at last month’s Flea Fest, while we tried “Makin Whoopie.”  I think we did pretty darn well. I changed it into a format that might be easier to read and added the second half of the lyrics, which some of you might find amusing.  Others not so…….I’ve also added it to our songlist.

There’s also a few video links down at the bottom of this post,  if you’d like to see how it has been “performed” over the years by folks as diverse as Eddie Cantor, Michelle Pfieffer, Diana Krall, Sir Elton John, and Elvis Costello. 

Just got back from the Gorge Uke Fest and had a chance to talk to a couple of pros about uke strings for banjo ukes.  At our last Flea Fest one  of  our Flea Jumpers  was inquiring about what were the best strings to use on a banjo uke.  So, while I was at the Gorge Uke Fest last wekend I asked a couple of the pros.  I wish I had some definitive news, but I asked two different people and got two entirely different answers!

Ralph Shaw (banjo uke player extraordinaire) likes the sound and tone he gets on his banjo uke with nylon strings. If you’re not familiar with Ralph’s portrayal of English super-star (and banjo-uke player) George Formby, you might enjoy this little snip:

I also asked Gordon Mayer, luthier extraordinaire of Mya-Moe ukes (and someone who has researched strings exhaustively),  and he prefers the sound of  fluorocarbon strings.  So there you have it. 

Nylon strings for ukuleles are pretty easy to come by.  Hilo is a popular brand. Fluorocarbon strings are also becoming easier and easier to find and are made by Worth,  DaKine Line, and a few others.  As most of know, the DaKine Line strings are made by my son Taylor, who will be heading off to college in a year and a half  (can you believe it?) and would love to have your business!

Speaking of banjo ukes….I just got one to play around with and am having nothing but fun with it. It’s definitely a smile-maker….and loud. 

I hope to post more about some of the great ukes I saw at the NAMM show in January, but wanted to alert you in the meantime to the March Special on BugsGear ukes being offered by Kani Ka Pila.  These are definitely beginner ukes and can’t compare to a fine, hand-crafted ukulele.  But, if you have  a very young player in mind and are looking for something to put in their Easter basket (besides candy) you might like to consider one of these very racey little cut-aways….


Kani Ka Pila’s March Special includes one of these delighful little ukes, re-strung with DaKine Line fluorocarbon strings (what a difference a string makes), and Ralph Shaw’s The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids! DVD for just $39.95 (a $71.95 value)!  Visit the website  for more information and while there you might want to subscribe so that you’ll be notified whenever we run these specials.

Hope to see you at our monthly gathering on the 25th!


Mighty Uke – A documentary by Tony Coleman and Margaret Meagher
Saturday, March
6, 2010
7:30 pm,    $10  cash or check at the door.
DaSilva Ukulele Co.
2547 8th Street, #28
Berkeley, CA 94710
510 649-1548

If you missed one of the earlier screenings, here’s another chance to not only see the “Mighty Uke,” but to also visit with the director and the producer.  (My guess is there’s a bunch of great ‘ukulele stories they’ll reveal that didn’t make it to the movie!) And, it sounds as though there’s going to be a little jam session afterwards.  If you  haven’t been to Mike Da Silva’s shop, yet, in Berkeley, it’s really a must-see.  Here are the directions:

From the North: 80/580 – University exit, East on University, Rt. on 6th, Lft. on Dwight, Rt. on 8th.  From the South:  80/580 – Ashby exit, East on Ashby, Left on 7th, Rt. on Parker, Left on 8th.  Enter at Bay 3 and look for #28.

What a great time we had last night! Sincere thanks go to Lois for opening up her home to all of us and, I must say, the pupus were beyond compare. Thank-you every one who came and special thanks, again, to Sean Allen for bringing his magical touch. We are so lucky to have him be part of our group. It was great, too, to play and learn some of the older songs in our song book (thank-you Betsy and Dorothy).  I was singing  “When You’re Down in Honolulu” all the way home. 

Speaking of  “When You’re Down in  Honolulu,” Tony Conjugacion does a great rendition of it on his Hawaiian Passion CD. It’s well-worth the download.  (I’ve also added Rod Stewart’s “Moonglow” from his Complete Great American Songbook CD)

And, right now, stop whatever you’re doing and download the new copy of “On a Coconut Island” from the song files and put it your Flea Jumper Songbook, as this one (along with “Moonglow”) is definitely becoming a Flea Jumper staple. And, while you’re at it, download the Louis Armstrong version from iTunes (on the sidebar) and practice, practice, practice.  This will help keep us all on the same page, so to speak. (And it has a catchy little ending…..)


And, finally, there was a little discussion last night about ‘ukulele tuners and where and how to get them. Look no further.  I have them in my on-line store: Kani-Ka-Pila. And while you’re there, you should check out Taylor’s DaKine Line Flurocarbon ‘Ukulele Strings, they really are superior to anything else we’ve tried. Plus, he tells me he needs a new steel guitar, so your support is very welcome.

Here’s Rod Stewart and “Moonglow” to take you out.  (No ‘ukuleles……but you’ll get the drift.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick reminder that we will be gathering at NapAloha in St. Helena, this Sunday, November 29, for our monthly flea fest!  If you’re bringing a new song, please bring enough copies for eveyone.  And don’t forget the pupus! RSVP with Diana: 707-967-9700.

And don’t forget the Big Ukulele Event coming up December 3 hosted by Kala Brand ‘Ukuleles to benefit the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma. There will be free ‘ukulele lessons and a concert by the “Ukalaliens.”  Tickets are available online at or can be purchased in advance at Tall Toad Music in Petaluma. The fun begins at 7:00. I do believe our good friends the Petalukes are also performing.

And this just in:  An ‘ukulele showdown (of sorts) has been scheduled for the weekend of March 19-21 at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino in Reno/Sparks when James Hill and Jake Shimubakuro headline twin concerts in the Nugget’s Celebrity Showroom in conjunction with the Tahoe Area Uke Fest. Not sure if the two ‘ukulele superstars will be on stage toether, but at least it’s nice to see James Hill getting the billing he so deserves.  It’s kind of like Bruce Lee meets the Royal Canadian Mounties……

In the meantime, James and his partner Anne Davison just won the “Traditional Abum of the Year” award at the Canadian Folk Music Awards for their CD, True Love Don’t Weep.  Here’s what they’re saying about it: 

For starters, True Love Don’t Weep, his first full-length collaboration with cellist Anne Davison, abandons the “bet-you-didn’t-think-I-could-do-that” subtext of his earlier work to follow a muse that seems unfettered by supply and demand and uninterested in ukulele evangelicalism. Cello, banjo, bouzouki, fiddle, voices, winds, brass, bells and music boxes entwine with ukuleles of all shapes and sizes through twelve tracks that resonate with folk, old-time, gospel and blues influences. True Love Don’t Weep isn’t a campaign for the ukulele, just an offering of beautiful, sweetly sorrowful music. From the heart-rending Ev’ry Night to the cathartic Obedience Blues to the slightly demented Duke’s Alley Rag, the duo – assisted by a handful of talented friends – weaves a broad tapestry of vivid colour and emotion. Fret-burning, uptempo cuts like Ode to a Frozen Boot, Richard’s Reel, and One More Lie to Love show why Canadian Folk Music calls James “truly amazing… a serious virtuoso upon the instrument.” But it’s the meditative introduction to Sakura, Sakura, the sweet vocal harmonies of Because, and the haunting chorus of Oh! Susanna that explain the three-year gap between True Love Don’t Weep and James’ “tour de force” third album A Flying Leap. After all, it takes time to dig deeper and True Love Don’t Weep certainly comes from a deeper – often darker – place.

I can still hear that very haunting rendition of “Oh! Susanna” that James played at the first Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival.  To hear some of the songs and order the CD directly from James you can visit his website: James Hill: Ukulele…Seriously.  Otherwise you can download the entire CD (highy recommended) or just individual songs on iTunes to the right.

And now for something entirely different, I’ve posted a new copy of “On a Coconut Island” under the Song Files.  It’s the Louis Armstrong version (you can also download it from iTunes on the right) …wonderful.


And, finally, since it is Black Friday, don’t forget to do your ‘ukulele holiday shopping soon: Send me an email if you’d like me to bring anything to Flea Jumpers on Sunday.  I can keep it a secret if you want…..


What fun! Many thanks to Napaloha for hosting a delightful evening on the 25th. We had lots of new songs, met some new friends, and enjoyed overall merriment.  We also decided to get together, again this Wednesday, November 11.  We know a number of you are unable to make on Sunday evenings and we miss you.  We’re hoping that an additional gathering on  Wednesday evening will bring you back.  Hope to see you there: Napaloha, November 11, 6 pm. After that, our next flea fest will be Sunday, November 29.

We did a couple of new songs and a few oldies but goodies.  “Moon Glow (b),” which is in our song files, seems to be a perennial favorite, so please be sure to print it out and bring it with you next time. We also did “White Sandy Beach” a la IZ which you will also find in the song files and in the list to the right.  

Here are a couple of  tutorials by Jody Kamisoto you might enjoy. The first shows you the bare ‘ukulele basics and leads you into “White Sandy Beach,” which you can try to strum along with in the second video:

(If you want to cut to the chase and play along with IZ, you can scroll down to the bottom of this post.)

One of the other new songs we enjoyed at the last flea fest was  “Maui Hawaiian Sup’pa Man,”  also from IZ’s Facing Future album. It, too, has been added to our song files and the list at the right so you can download it. Thank you , Earl, for bringing that one to us.  Incidentally, if you print out our copy of “Maui HAwaiian Sup’pa Man” from the song files, you’ll also get the legend of Maui (courtesy of www. It’ll help you understand the lyrics immeasurably.  To learn even more about Maui and how he snared the sun, you should visit There’s  a lot of great Hawaiian stories there if you poke around a bit.

Terry also keeps bringing in great songs. Last month he brought us “Tennessee Waltz” and “The Good Ship Lollypop.” I’ll get those posted ASAP.

And now for a word from our sponsor: As you all start planning your next trip to Hawai’i, don’t forget to check out the link to the right for Hawaiian Airlines. It’ll give you an automatic 5% discount on their lowest published fare, plus you’ll help us build “miles” in the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival’s account to help bring over more great artists from Hawai’i, such as Aldrinne Guerrero, Brittni Paiva, and Derick Sebastian for nest year. Speaking of the festival, save the date: September 10, 11, 12. We’re moving it up a month in 2010 and adding workshops on Sunday.  More to come…..

I also hope you’ll check out Kani Ka Pila, my own on-line store full of all kinds of goodies for the ‘ukulele players in your life. By doing some of your holiday shopping at Kani Ka Pila, you’ll help keep this web log alive. You’ll find everything from the Kani Ka Pila Klip to ‘ukuleles, Jumpin’ Jim songbooks, tuners, hand exercisers, and Taylor’s DaKine Line ‘ukulele strings. So please, take a peek.

E Pili MaiOK. Hula is coming to NapAloha.  Some of you may have already had the very distinct privilege of taking a workshop from Debbie Haumea Aynaga at the ‘ukulele festival, or you may have had an opportunity meet her and her ‘ohana at NapAloha during the October Cheers event.  In any case, she’s coming back to the Napa Valey teach hula on Sunday November 15 at NapAloha from 10am to 12pm.  Hope to see you there, this is a very special opportunity, indeed.


And, finally, this just in from KALA, who will be hosting  free ‘ukulele lessons and a concert to raise money for the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma on December 3:

Petaluma-based Kala Brand Music Co. will host an evening of free ukulele lessons on December 3,  led by performers extraordinaire, the Ukalaliens, followed by a concert from which proceeds will be donated to the Phoenix Theater.  Kala encourages beginners of all ages to join in and will make ukuleles available to attendees that don’t have their own.

It all begins at the Phoenix at 7:00pm with a free ukulele workshop followed by a concert scheduled to begin at 8:15.  A donation of $10 for those 16 and older is suggested for entrance to the concert which will benefit the Phoenix Theater and its afterschool programs for the youth of Petaluma.

The Ukalaliens (aka Quality Folk) is composed of Kate Power and Steve Einhorn. Kate and Steve have shared the stage with folk luminaries such as Peter Seeger and have performed on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion”. They play guitar, banjo and ukulele and have a knack for engaging audiences and harmonizing with every community they visit.  As an added bonus, our good friends, the Petalukes, will also be there to share a few tunes, as well.

Tickets are availableonline at or can be purchased in advance at Tall Toad Music in Petaluma.

For more information about Kala and the Ukalalians please visit: and  or call Kala Brand Music at 707 775 4073.  Those wanting to carpool can leave a comment here.

And that’s it for now.  To take yu out, here’s Iz and “White Sandy Beach,” one more time.  Grab your uke and sing along….it’s almost as good as being there…then hit the Hawaiian Airlines link above and book your flight.

Ralph Shaw's 'Ukulele Strum Shop
Ralph Shaw’s ‘Ukulele Strum Shop

If you missed the 2009 Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival, I’m sorry.  It was an amazing 3 days.  We’ll be posting videos, photos, and reports on the festival website as they come in.  There are lots of folks to thank, but I want to take this particular opportunity to thank fellow flea jumpers: Eva, Patrick, Jeanne, Lois, and Diana for their very welcome and able assistance

MusicGuyMic on the Promenade

MusicGuyMic on the Promenade

throughout the day; to Taylor, Ariel, Erich, Kathy, and Elaine Herrick for gracing us all with their talent on the Promenade Stage at Beringer Vineyards; to Rob and Sue  for bringing their beautiful ‘ukuleles, hand-crafted right here in the Napa Valley, to Judd for hosting us Saturday night at Judd’s Hill; to John  and Julie  for hosting the luau Saturday night at Flora Springs; and to Steve  for making that amazing  event in the caves at Miner Family Vineyards happen on Sunday morning.  Warm thanks also go to our friends from over the hill at the Petalukes: Clarice, Karen and Curtiss. We’re a great team.  Let’s do it again. 

Speaking of doing it again: Don’t forget our monthly flea jumper gathering at 6:00 pm, Sunday, October 25 at Napaloha, 1428 Main Street, in St. Helena.  Diana has generously offered the store as a permanent gathering place  for our monthly flea fests, so unless you hear otherwise, that’s where we’ll meet the last Sunday of the month.  Bring pupus, as usual, but let’s also bring a beverage to share.  Since it does require some reconfiguring of the store to make room for us, it would be nice if Diana had a rough headcount, so please let us know if you’re coming by responding to the survey.   
Ohana soprano, solid spruce top, curly mahogany back and sides, $140
Looking for the perfect ‘ukulele? I will be bringing a few beautiful ‘ukuleles from Ohana and offering them at ridiculous prices so you can start your Christmas shopping early.  If  there’s a particular one you want to see, please let me know, and I’ll bring it along if it’s one of the ones that I have available.  And, as you know, Diana does carry the flea and other ‘ukulele accessories from Kani Ka Pila.
Ralph ShawIf you had the opportunity to witness the antics of Ralph Shaw in person at the festival, you already know what a funny fellow he is.   Here’s an excerpt from his latest newsletter, in which he describes how to  make  great wine:
Sometimes bad things happen to good ukuleles. Irreparable accidents are, fortunately, not common but always heartbreaking when they do occur. This summer a friend of mine was playing ukulele at a beach campfire singalong. Everyone sat on logs. Taking a break from playing he carefully laid his uke behind the log on which he was sitting. When someone piled more wood on the fire everyone got too hot and the log was rolled back…Crunch!!!
Now you might think that was the end of his ukulele – but no. I have been able to supply him with this recipe for delicious** Ukulele Wine.
This Recipe makes 1 Imperial Gallon of Ukulele Wine
You will need:
  • 1 ukulele (crushed)
  • 1 gallon of boiling water
  • 6 cups of sugar (organic raw sugar eg. Sucanat will add more flavor and body than ordinary white sugar)
  • 1 cup of prunes
  • 1 Campden tablet (crushed) (optional – this is a preservative but is also what puts sulphites in your wine. If you’re not using this do make sure everything is scrupulously sanitized.)
  • 1¼ tsp wine yeast
  1. Remove strings and all plastic and metal parts; tuners, frets, plastic nut/bridge etc.  from your ukulele. Rinse the ukulele well and crush as finely as possible. Remember, the smaller you make the pieces of your ukulele, the more flavor it will impart.
  2. In a large food grade bucket combine the crushed ukulele fragments and boiling water. Cover with porous lid and soak for 24 hours. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth (or clean pantyhose will do for this) into a large cooking pot. Bring to boil and remove from heat.
  3. Return the heated liquid to the fermenting bucket (this is called your primary) and stir in all other ingredients EXCEPT the yeast.
  4. Allow to cool until lukewarm then sprinkle wine yeast on top or prepare yeast as per instructions on the package. Cover fermenter with a porous cover to protect from fruit flies and to allow carbon dioxide to escape. You can use the other, left-over leg of your panty hose for this.
  5. Allow to ferment for at least 14 days. Stir daily making sure to always sanitize your spoon.
  6. Siphon wine off the sediment into a glass secondary. Attach airlock. When fermentation is complete (Specific Gravity = 1.000 about 3 weeks. Use a hydrometer to measure this) siphon off sediment into a clean secondary. Top up with cooled pre-boiled water. Attach airlock. Siphon off sediment again in 2 months to aid clearing and top up with cooled pre-boiled water again if necessary. Let stand until clear.
  7. At long last, after the 6 to 12 month clearing period, you get to bottle your wine. To do so sterilize all your bottles and tools. Siphon wine into bottles allowing about an inch of air space between the surface of your wine and the bottom of a fully inserted cork.
  8. Store the filled bottles on their sides to keep corks moist, ideally in a cool dark place.

That’s it – you’ve just crafted your first gallon of delicious *** Ukulele Wine! (aka Plink Plonk)
* ukulele wine probably should not be consumed internally. Non-organic glues and varnishes may be enough to render this drink poisonous and yukky.  Keep this in mind for the future. Next time you buy a ukulele, do insist that it be made from all organic, edible materials. I’m sure most ukulele builders will be more than happy to help you with your request.
** like I said before. You probably shouldn’t drink this stuff. I won’t take any responsibility for the after effects .
*** again. This stuff could be toxic and you may be better off using it for putting a deep and lustrous shine on your wooden furniture and antique leather items****
****Please note that ukulele wine may be damaging to products made of wood and/or leather.
PS. If anybody actually goes ahead and makes this, please let me know how it turns out.
Next Week: I’ll tell you how to deep-fry your old ukulele strings to make a delicious and “ocean-wise” alternative to calamari.

To be on the  receiving end of Ralph’s wit and humor on a regular basis, you can visit his newsletter sign-up page, where you can subscribe and also see the archive of previous newsletters. (I believe he also shares some useful information about playing the ukulele as well.)

That’s it for now.  Now that the festival is behind us for a bit, I hope to get back to regular posts and content.  See you Sunday.